Asian stock markets are in positive territory on Wednesday following the record highs overnight on Wall Street amid hopes of U.S. fiscal stimulus. News that the U.K. has started to administer the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech to the public also helped lift sentiment. The UK is the first Western country in the world to start mass vaccination program against the pandemic.
The Australian market is extending gains to a seventh straight session following the record highs overnight on Wall Street.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 43.60 points or 0.65 percent to 6,731.30 and the broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 44.80 points or 0.65 percent to 6,967.00. Australian stocks rose modestly on Tuesday.
Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is advancing more than 1 percent, BHP Group is adding 0.7 percent and Rio Tinto is up 0.2 percent.
Oil stocks are also mostly higher despite a decline in crude oil prices overnight. Oil Search is higher by 0.7 percent and Santos is adding 0.6 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is lower by more than 1 percent.
Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank is advancing more than 1 percent and National Australia Bank is adding 0.3 percent, while ANZ Banking is down 0.2 percent and Westpac is unchanged.
Gold miners are also mixed even as safe-haven gold prices extended gains overnight. Evolution Mining is rising almost 1 percent, while Newcrest Mining is lower by 0.2 percent.
In economic news, Australia will see December results for the consumer confidence index from Westpac Bank today.
The Japanese market is advancing after U.S. stocks closed at record highs overnight. Upbeat Japanese core machine orders data also boosted sentiment.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 257.79 points or 0.97 percent to 26,724.87, after rising to a high of 26,796.10 earlier. The Japanese market closed lower on Tuesday for a third straight session.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is adding 0.6 percent and Fast Retailing is advancing more than 1 percent. In the tech space, Advantest is rising almost 3 percent and Tokyo Electron is up 0.2 percent.
The major exporters are mostly higher on a weaker yen. Panasonic is rising almost 2 percent, Sony is adding almost 1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is higher by 0.7 percent, while Canon is down 0.2 percent.
Among automakers, Toyota is advancing more than 1 percent and Honda is higher by almost 1 percent. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is lower by 0.2 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is up 0.2 percent.
Among the other major gainers, Hino Motors is gaining almost 5 percent. Sumco Corp., Japan Steel Works, Mitsui Mining & Smelting, Olympus Corp. and Oji Holdings are all rising more than 4 percent each.
Conversely, Z Holdings is losing almost 4 percent and Shinsei Bank is lower by more than 1 percent.
On the economic front, the value of core machine orders in Japan jumped a seasonally adjusted 17.1 percent on month in October, coming in at 842.5 billion yen. That blew away expectations for a gain of 2.8 percent following the 4.4 percent drop in September.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 104 yen-range on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Malaysia are all advancing more than 1 percent each, while Singapore, Shanghai, Indonesia and Taiwan are also higher.
On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Tuesday as positive developments on the vaccine front and hopes of a fiscal stimulus outweighed reports showing a surge in coronavirus cases across the country. News about the U.K. beginning to administer the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and that it found no safety concerns with the vaccine helped lift sentiment.
The Dow ended higher by 104.61 points or 0.35 percent at 30,174.40. The S&P 500 moved up 10.29 points or 0.28 percent to settle at 3,702.25 and the tech-laden Nasdaq climbed 62.83 points or 0.5 percent to 12,582.77.
The major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Tuesday. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 and Germany’s DAX edged up 0.05 percent and 0.06 percent, respectively. France’s CAC 40 slid 0.23 percent.
Crude oil futures settled lower on Tuesday amid worries about outlook for energy demand due to the continued surge in coronavirus cases in several states across the U.S. and reports of tight lockdown measures in several countries across the world. WTI crude for January dipped $0.16 or about 0.4 percent to $45.60 a barrel.
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